Meldrum House -a dog friendly, delightful destination.

I know I know I sound like a stuck record but really. This time of year in our glorious country matches and beats hands down anywhere else on the planet you could meander. In my humble opinion. On the road…the long suffering husband.. Charlie Chorizo Sausage Dog and myself.

 

The sausage at Meldrum House – someone shouted BISCUITS!

 

Originally from the North East I have been there a lot recently as I have been settling my Mum into a Care Home. She has Alzheimers and it has been a rollercoaster of a year but she has gravitated home to Aberdeen where she was born and bred.  She has lived in the Central belt for 15 years and yet the moment she stepped over the threshold of this particular home she just put her hand on my arm and said “This is where I want to live”.  So..a very very long story short..I am splitting my time to be with her and to be in Edinburgh. It’s an easy 2 hour drive and now Mum is  settled the long suffering husband, sausage dog and I decided to go away for a few days to just walk, inhale the delicious fresh air and relax.

 

Old Meldrum Golf Course….wow!

It’s hard to find accommodation last minute in the Aberdeen area especially at this time of year and so with a google, a wing, a prayer and a bit of pot luck we rocked up to Meldrum House, about 30 minutes outside the City on the outskirts of Old Meldrum . And well…. be still my beating heart. Its like  Disney Castle – but the real McCoy – and what  a location!

A wee something whilst we enjoyed a pre dinner bev

Privately owned it really is a very special spot indeed.

There was a wedding on  which they warned us about so we were in the main house. The weddings are in an annex and we honestly didn’t know the huge rollocking party was there.

 

We had a great wander about, a delicious meal and retired early to our huge bedroom where we slept like logs (or dogs in Charlies case) partly because of the giant bed but also because the vast windows were draped in the best black out curtains the world has ever seen. Fabulous.

Being an obsessive foodie it was great to find this chef knows his onions and every other item of food. Delicious food. And their smoked haddock and poached egg in the morning was a thing of beauty. Och it all was. Including the hungover wedding guests clutching their heads and gulping coffee with shaky hands – ah yes those were the days.

The staff were all lovely, chatty and informal. Despite it being mid summer or near enough a huge fire roared in the entrance hall which always makes for a warm welcome and nothing was too much trouble.

If you golf – prepare yourself – it is a beautiful course. Its not cheap to play but the hotel can arrange it all for you. I hit a bucket of balls but didn’t play – well I can’t yet! Having just had my first lesson in 20 years I am currently smitten but if the mere thought of golf repels you don’t be discouraged the gardens are like Life on Earth ….Swans and their signets, Geese and their Goslings, 2 Highland Cows and a few tourists……the full enchilada. Bliss.

Mr & Mrs Goose and their Goslings – gas and air for the poor duchess there were about 12!
Love is in the air for these two hairy galoots.

Sausage still looking for that biscuit ……Seriously refreshed and podged up with lovely food we will be back…….and soon.For now the sausage, husband and I are heading elsewhere on the hunt for more dog friendly places to stay….will keep you posted.
Oh and whatever rate you get on booking.com phone the hotel direct – you aye get the best deal that way…..Here’s their details….Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course
T: +44 (0)1651 872294
F: +44 (0)1651 872464
E: enquiries@meldrumhouse.com

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

The Brandon at Canonmills – yum yum yum.

13654253_1208303802515978_8331068469997554659_n

In the place where Cross and Corner used to live there’s now a wee bar/restaurant on that corner of Broughton Street and Eyre Place called Brandon’s of Canonmills.  A refreshing groovsters hangout with food that frankly my lips haven’t stopped smacking themselves about since we tried it.
When I say groovsters hang out clearly not just groovsters as we are about as far from the category as you can get and still be labelled human.

We are 3 middle aged woman and a sausage dog. Sounds like a film but no it’s just my life.

So just to clarify….dogs are very welcome indeed as is everyone it seems.

When you have hit the dizzy heights of 50 odd (with the emphasis on odd in this case) it’s disheartening and annoying the number of people who ignore you, don’t do eye contact or assume you are in for a cup of tea or a slash. Well our shower arounder was a charmer make no mistake and we loved him. So we booked a booth for supper  later in the day thinking it was just a formality –  after all a Tuesday night surely wouldn’t be busy. We were right, it wasn’t busy. It was packed.

2 main courses and a bottle of wine £30 – a good deal and too good to pass up.

Photo of Interior courtesy of Scotsman.com
Photo of Interior courtesy of Scotsman.com
Japes aplenty
Japes aplenty

One Sausage & 3 women ensconced. Happy days. As we arrived a very tired beach exhausted Charlie Chorizo was offered water which he slurped before falling asleep on my foot.

The sausage looking forward to his visit.
The sausage working up an appetite at the beach.

We  had a couple of margaritas to start – blood orange margaritas – hello! A great kick start to any evening. there was no pressure of time so we set the pace giving more than ample time for our well over due gossiping.
And…
Well the food was great. Delicious. Fresh. Imaginative. Slurp. Beetroot and goats cheese salad. A burger – just plain but perfect and panko rolled smoked jackfruit – wtf? I have no idea so I asked. It is an Indonesian fruit apparently which was a revelation.

Resist making that revolting joker please. Thank you.
Resist making that revolting joke please. Thank you.

Our smiley server described Jackfruit as having the same consistency as pulled pork – I was sceptical but he was bang on. The flavoursome pork impersonator oozed smoky paprika and the presentation was like 2 great big meaty delicious Scotch eggs (without the egg!)
Puds were great too. We had Mellis Cheese and oatcakes and – drum roll – adffogato – not with ice cream and espresso but with rhubarb ice cream and a shot of gin. Be still my beating heart.

Dear Santa I will be a good good girl if you promise to take me back here. Soon.

Its warm, welcoming, groovy, dog friendly, cocktail delightful, foodie hangout for all.

Its so good this lazy blogger has broken the habit of being a sloth and got back on the blogging horse. Woah.

The Brandon at Canonmills: Mmmmmnnnnnnn

 

If you fancy going down the Jackfruit route heres an article from The Guardian all about it.

Sack of tatties

A mature party - unlike one we've ever had. Sadly.
A mature party – unlike one we’ve ever had. Sadly. Courtesy of www.thetelegraph.co.uk

Why is it I wait until the morning of a party to get something to wear? It’s not just any party either its our party. A party to relaunch our restaurant in Aberdeen.

As ever I have been concentrating on the night itself, the folk, the food, the drink and the music and then come the revolution I think. ‘Och I will just wear that-it’s’ fine’. Then I realise when I try it on and the poundage of Christmas still clings to my not insubstantial fleshy bits  it is not in fact fine at all unless I want to look like a mutton dressed as lamb, VPL, bulgy bodied, baggy kneed harridan. Which I don’t.

The thing is it’s a perfectly good dress, from Sandwich which my pal donated to me but it won’t cut the mustard unless I cut the calories and it’s a little late for that.   To wear a too tight bulger is just not going to do for the relaunch of the restaurant  plus let’s be honest I am seeing people I haven’t seen for 20 years and I don’t want to look well em.. 20 years older. Also I don’t want to look as though I have tried too hard so the frock that was for the offsprings 21st is not getting an airing. “She’s done up like a dogs dinner look at the state of that!” Its a rock and a hard place situation so I get up at 7am and google all the shops in Edinburgh, the majority of which don’t open till 10am ! Why? Anyway we are leaving at 10am so the only real option is John Lewis.  Concession central so I am standing at their locked grill gates at 8.59am  to find something. Anything.

Cramming 20 dresses into a changing room finally I try this one on. Thankfully this photo is not of me in it – obviously – but well I felt black was a little dull. So.images…I tried on another 25 and by now hot, sweaty and grumpy I plumped (sic) for this one from Damsel In A Dress. Bright. Cheery. Machine washable. Yes I have complete aversion to dry cleaning anything. Ever. Grippy and lazy my two watch words.I_5055344785255_01_20151216So relieved off I run to check out, pay, run home, pack car, put sausage dog in car, drive to Aberdeen. Arrive, shower, open bag, realise new dress is still in Edinburgh 120 miles away so I have no option but to wear the original sausage skin.  I blame this stress on what happened next which I can’t quite bear to write down yet. Mortified. Tomorrow when my blood pressure returns to normal I will.

Badly behaved old bat (dehydrated)

PS Googling Damsel in a Dresses website and happily found this great Blog Damsel In A Dress from California which has nothing to do with that stripy thing above and everything to do with a great blog. Its on my blogroll from when I remember how to add it.

Aberdeen – The Silver City – love it!

It’s been a long haul. A long low slow lazy can’t be bothered to get up and at it haul to hoover out the blog and start afresh. But here we are.

IMG_3612With the sausage dog on board a new year full of adventure beckons. Here is my little ginger man in the back of the car with his mini-Schnauzer mates. That’s Basil on the left – and  Doris on the right. Three wee crackers, you can spot the tartan blankets as they were well wrapped and just getting their circulation back after a long walk along the beach in Aberdeen. Bbbrr.

We were up last week amidst the aftermath of the storm that wreaked havoc in the area. Dramatic scenes all around not least the sandy beach which was so covered in drift wood no-one could actually walk along it.

IMG_3592 IMG_3593Here’s a photo of a tree which was snapped off at the roots and carried through the churning sea to this lofty spot. It was wild, windy and cold but great. We had faces like well slapped babies bums, dogs like drookit wigs and an intense need for some food so we stepped into The Sand Dollar on the front. Overlooking the beach and sea their welcome was warm and their food delicious.Soup of the day and great hunks of warm bread and butter set us up for the brisk walk back to the car. It’s almost worth getting cold, wet and shivery just as an excuse to get in there and toast up.IMG_3590
Though I haven’t lived in Aberdeen for years. I love it. The silver city – it aye feels like home. But colder.

 

IMG_3613

Dog friendly Edinburgh

Snozzling

As a sausage dog obsessed woman it is always great when you find a gaff your hairy pal is made as welcome as your two legged one. Miss Dynamite and I as ever were stomping the streets this week with Doris Schnauzer and her admirer Charlie ChoriZo Sausage dog when we fell into Water of Leith Cafe relocated from its very successful Coburg Street address to the main drag of Inverleith down to Canonmills at 1 Howard Street it has been reborn and reopened which is a delight to its many many fans.

I knew a warm welcome, a sticky cake, a light lunch and a smile were on the cards but I didn’t realise they are dog lovers to boot.

An area is designated for the 4 leggers an immediate bowl of water produced and as you can see a little love nest blanket.  Everyone was very happy and we stayed for hours.

I can recommend it for you and your Hairy pals – 2 and 4 legged like. 
The Water of Leith Cafe

1 Howard Place

Edinburgh.

 
  

    
 

Dine in Edinburgh’s newest restaurant. DINE.

Dine with Stuart Muir.
IMG_2839

The new kid on the block in place of Blue the much loved and missed groovacious bar restaurant of the early 90’s has been refurbed and reborn as
Dine with Stuart Muir.

The high heid yin comes from down south and had the sense to poach Stuart who was the head chef at Harvey Nichols Fourth Floor restaurant in Edinburgh to head up the team in the kitchen. Yum.

Muted lighting, warm, caramel, colours, high backed leather banquettes and delightfully sociable round tables create a warm inviting atmosphere and seats up to 80. The cocktail/champagne bar which seats up to 30 has slouchy low down comfortable leather chairs facing a bar glistening with a fine array of bottles, liqueurs well kent and eclectic.

We started with a cocktail. The list is extensive and the Santana ”
100% agave Casa noble crystal Tequila – cointreau – blue curacao – lime juice – cinnamon.” I can recommend highly. Pal Dynamite had a winter warmer which happily was not a big slipper but a chi-chi wee tea cup offering a warm concoction that made her cheeky chops smile. Lick your lips and have a gander at their creative list of cocktails here.

And so to dinner.

The a la carte menu read very well. Not too big, not too fancy and not too expensive. We were out for an impromptu girls meal on a Monday evening so requested the market menu which at £14.50 for 2 courses or £17.50 for 3 including coffee is a billy bargain.

Some went a la carte. Some market menu. And regardless of what we chose – there was nothing but praise, smiles and compliments to the chef all round.

Starters included pork rillete; two generous quenelles of rillete served with chargrilled toast – yum yum yum – toast has never toasted or tasted so good. Homemade Humus (yes you can spell it like that) and a pickled thing too set the rillete off to perfection.
Friend Janes a la carte wild mushroom risotto disappeared like snow off a dyke with oohin and aahing noises so – “excellent” was the verdict from her.

Main course I went for the veggie option – a bean casserole – don’t be so beanist – this was a belter. I am not a veggie but just fancied something warming and this hit the spot. Rich, delicious, warming and a mighty portion too for the Aberdonian tum.
Salmon was chosen by two and the presentation was impeccable as was the taste. Cod enjoyed by our a la carte girl also got top marks.

Sadly my phone had spent a few seconds face down on Princes Street earlier in the day so my camera was not up to the mark. I took a few but they would in no way do the food justice. So you will have to take my word for it.

unnamed

So get thee to Saltire Court, Cambridge Street upstairs from the foyer of the Traverse. Go on up you go.

It was first of many a Christmas night out and this one will be hard to beat.

Tonight I am off to meet the Tesla – the amazing electric car which is taking the car world by storm. I will report back.

Bendy men, margaritas & broccoli.

Yes.

images

 

Yup I am still doing the yoga – in case you are in any doubt this is not me, this is a bendy man. A very bendy man with small pants.

And the yoga had a hiatus as a night of margaritas took their toll. Even posting the photo of the cocktail is giving me an undulation of the belly. Yuk.

Unknown-5You see we had agreed to have just one wee cocktail and then received the lovely news my wee niece had had a baby – (Jack, 7lbs 8oz, mother and baby doing well). Well it is the first baby in our family since my now 20 year old son was born so of course we wet the baby’s head. Extensively.

Unknown-4

The following morning was grim. Puckered mouth. Scaly skin. Road map eyes. In fact if you can imagine the polar opposite of any supermodel you can think of then you are still no where near the hideous state of poison we were sporting.

When I say “we” my dear friend is staying with me just now and she announced she had lost a good bit of weight juicing. So inhabiting the world of the clichéd middle aged woman once we found our discarded clothes we put them on and walked straight to an electrical shop and bought a juicer and then off to buy our body weight in vegetables.

Yoga and juicing. Have I been abducted by aliens? Well let’s see  Well…well… well….I am off to rest before taking the plunge. The shock might kill me. Raw broccoli in this body ? Help.

A tail of two Schitties (Schitzus)

Dog friendly places are a joy to find and Edinburgh is just getting more and more dog friendly. Initially keepers of the canine were used to being cast out to stand in the dreich weather giving the dog the evil eye for being so unwelcome  but now they are welcomed with open arms, bowls of water and a clap on the head. Joy.

Recently we were in The Raeburn in Stockbridge where they are welcome outside but also in the bar area. It was like a dog crèche. Big ones, small ones, multiple leads all tangled, spaniels, a pug, a scottie, two schitzus, two westies, a couple of labs, a labradoodle, 2 schnauzers and of course Charlie Chorizo Sausage dog. Fellow dog lovers understand the overwhelming love you feel for this hairy crater on the end of the lead and know only too well why you are not enjoying a drink in the pub round the corner after the barman barked at you “Nae dogs in here, oh for Gods sake just tie it up outside”.  Huh I think not.

So as the places we are all welcome multiply tails are wagging wildly.

The Raeburn on Raeburn Place Stockbridge, we would highly recommend and with the lovely summer months ahead but there may well be a queue of canine owners jostling to get in – including me – see you there!
 

Le Manoir – French dream is a reality.

IMG_1747When I imagined staying in a French house overnight with food and wine and lovely hospitality – I thought it was just a dream  but good news – it exists. And here it is. Le Manoir only an hour from the ferry in Calais – Calais is another tale for another day but today is all about Le Manoir a lovely story……

We read about it on Sawdays website and had booked ahead. Plugging in the co-orindates our Sat Nav took us round the houses, across the rues, over the montagnes and meandering for ages but eventually we found it – in a small village called Gouy-St-Andre in Pas De Calais, and it was well worth the wait. Look.  Sometimes photos speak louder than words. But being me you will get words as well.

We arrived on 8th May and the whole area was completely shut. We wondered if the Triffids had landed, or some huge global disaster had happened and we were the only ones not to know about it but when we finally found our way to Le Manoir and met our hosts Ceclia and Raphael they informed us every 8th May in France  it is a massive public holiday to commemorate the signing of the peace agreement marking the end of the war by Charles De Gaulle in 1945. So we arrived on a party day!. Splendide!

On arrival a delicious afternoon tea of homemade cake and cups of loose leaf tea before being shown to the gorgeous room where we collapsed in to a bubbly bath before dinner at 7pm. When we came down there was a roaring open fire with a fireplace the size of Uist  and two huge sofas which we sank into before being handed a glass of chilled wine and some canapés. How we suffer. NOT.

IMG_1700
IMG_1711

 

This is the label – fresh. light and really easy to drink. Being a philistine I don’t care how much a wine costs as long as it tastes good and this tasted great. Only later I learnt it was about 5 -7 euros! So I have decided to give up water and just drink this instead. Have a look here  and try it sometime you will thank moi (French bi-lingual now obviously)

At this point we mentioned dinner and of course being a daftie I had forgotten to mention to Cecilia, our hostess that we would like to eat with them. But she whipped it up in no time at all. If it had been me it would have been cheese on toast but at Le Manoir we were in the hands of a gourmet. The dining room was set for two overlooking the garden and we indulged in an entirely homemade feast. Rillette, gherkins, bread, mushroom tart, then an omelette bursting with fresh veg from the garden and Le Touquet potatoes from the host Raphaels Fathers garden with butter.     At this point we should have had our jaws wired but on we went to enjoy home baked apple tart, miniature cheesecake and ice cream. Be still my beating heart.  We managed to move to the lounge and the couch where we met this handsome chap. Charlie the cat.

A man who also enjoys his food. I am now his body double – with slightly less hair.

IMG_1721

Some more photos to give you a taste – see what I mean about the fire? Its a beezer!

IMG_1699IMG_1708IMG_1697

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast – you can see here – beautifully laid out table was  homemade yoghurt, bread, jam, ,fresh fruit salad, hot fresh pancakes and maple syrup, homemade Granola, pastries. I could go on and on as I do but I think you get the gist…..

IMG_1724

Oh and meet Alfred and Marcelle, the geese. These two meander around outside like a pair of Disney characters keeping an eye on all the comings and goings.

IMG_1739

So to sum up. The ambience of Le Manoir is quite magical. The X factor. We were the first Scots they had to stay – and hopefully we have not spoilt it for the rest of you because we behaved rather well for a change.  From the horses, geese, cats, oh and of course the humans! They were wonderful….oh and their children who speak better Spanish, German and almost English than us. Yes we were very taken with the whole place……

IMG_1757

IMG_1752

IMG_1727

IMG_1748

IMG_1753

IMG_1746

IMG_1749

Le Manoir An hour from Calais and well worth straining your SatNav to find.

Just chatting on the road with Mum….oh and drinking…of course.

Funny how conversations go. I remember when the Black Panther was at large I was staying in a Caravan with my cousin in a field beside her Mums kennels we were about 10. We got ourselves in o such a state that when my Auntie Wilma came up and banged loudly on the window for a joke and we both became completely hysterical and had to decamp with tour sleeping bags back onto the floor in the house. So as were driving south I was retelling this story when we heard on the radio that there as an escaped convict on the loose.

“He’s called headbanger” said Mum in a most authoraritive tone. “Or is it nut cracker ? Or the big stabber? What was his name? ” pause forebrain to engage again ” I know Hammerhead!”

This went on for a while until eventually Google saved the day Skull cracker!” I announced triumphantly. So we agreed we should be keeping our eyes peeled for him on our way to Yorkshire – our first night away. It was a lovely place delicious food, comfy beds and dangerously great wine.

The General Tarleton Inn in Ferrensby. A delightful, delicious, comfy, friendly, warm, open Yorkshire hospitality. Fabulous food, comfy beds and somewhere I would go back to in an instant.

As we settled in the bar I texted the long suffering husband the wine label.

Trouble in the shape of a bottle of South AFrican wine. YUM.
Trouble in the shape of a bottle of South African wine. YUM.

“Oh God” he said “Beware first night away syndrome, I hope they don’t have a piano or a banjo ukulele”. Well we have been together 20 years he knows me too well. Luckily for them they had neither.

The food was superlative. Delicious. Brilliantly cooked and we didn’t hold back.

More details about that later for now…………..the skull cracker is back inside and all is well with the world………packed and ready to roll tomorrow …

zzzzzz